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DR-DOS Enhancement Project (Announce)

posted by Rugxulo(R) Homepage, Usono, 09.12.2017, 20:42

> I have not seen your term "EDR-DOS" anywhere else, and to be honest, I am
> not keen on it. I think it would confuse people. Yes, I do mean Udo Kuhnt's
> Enhanced DR OpenDOS.

Well, the bootable system file names (and thus boot sector) of EDR-DOS are different. If you ignore that, sure, it's more-or-less highly similar to vanilla DR-DOS.

AFAIK, any so-called "DR-DOS" since 7.03 was only a few patched utils for OEMs (or modified/renamed, e.g. Dell DRMK). So there hasn't been a full or official release since then.

OpenDOS 7.01 was very short-lived, and that's what EDR-DOS is based upon. But nobody else has bothered making any modifications, AFAIK.

> Of all the names, DR-DOS (with or without the hyphen) seems the easiest and
> best-known to me.

It doesn't really matter, obviously. But "OpenDOS" is the (limited) source release, "DR-DOS" is the full commercial OS, and "EDR-DOS" is Udo's patches for FAT32/FAT+/LBA etc.

> > But maybe he only focused on FAT32 (etc.) and not so much multitasking.
> I think so -- AFAICS he only worked on DRBIO/DRDOS/COMMAND.COM and only a
> few supplementary commands: TASKMGR, SHARE, SYS, XCOPY. Most of the OS
> remains unchanged.

AFAIK, OpenDOS 7.01 only released sources for kernel and shell. Like I said, it didn't even have all of Novell's fixes. And later commercial-only DR-DOS 7.03 had various improvements (e.g. DPMI).

> > At best, EDR-DOS (kernel + shell only) are (AFAIK) "sources available,
> > non-commercial only".
> I do not currently have access to the source CD that Caldera/Lineo provided
> to me personally -- it's in Brno and I now live in Prague. But I must check
> it and look at the licence. I thought that Caldera did release 7.01,
> sources and all, under a permissive licence, but I could be wrong.

"Non-commercial only" means you can't sell your changes, but they can!

Many companies won't officially mirror files that aren't free/libre. GNU/FSF and OSI are very insistent that all users can make changes, whether commercial or otherwise.

Honestly, after all these years, I don't see the point in them holding on so tightly, but DR-DOS 7.03 is still sold online, so who knows.

> Even if it's just freeware/non-commercial, it's still a good step, surely?
> But you're right, I need to clarify this.

Better than nothing, but not better than FreeDOS (or Linux or ...). It's been many years, and while FreeDOS may not technically be perfect, it's still quite good. These days you're more likely to run MS Word under WINE rather than the old DOS version.

> > TaskManager (TASKMGR.EXE)? IIRC, they supported task swapping (286+) and
> > pre-emptive multitasking (386+). The latter needs its (closed source,
> > proprietary) EMM386
> Yes, it does.
> I am in parallel also working on a similar version (VirtualBox + bootable
> USB key) using IBM PC DOS 7.1. I have this working now, but IBM's
> HIMEM/EMM386 are giving me problems. I cannot get Quaterdeck QEMM to start
> successfully on any modern hardware at my disposal; it locks the machine or
> reboots it.

I never used QEMM, but I thought one guy said it capped out at 256 MB.

> So I have to use the DOSes' bundled memory managers, and so far, DR's is
> proving a lot less troublesome.

DR-DOS' EMM386.EXE doesn't even need HIMEM.SYS, but both are limited to 64 MB (despite falsely claiming XMSv3).

> > (with bundled .VXDs or whatever,
> There is no Windows on any of my text machines, so no VxDs.

There are bundled .VXDs inside EMM386.EXE itself. (Plus maybe other stuff, I don't know. It's very strange! There's a lot of magic in there for /MULTI and DPMI.)

> > and its DPMI server enabled).
> AFAICT, it's built in and automatic.

You must use its DPMI for multitasking, but it's not automatic. It's otherwise optional. You can turn it on and off (at least in full DR-DOS 7.03).

> > Not sure how well it will work for your uses. (Remember, it's
> > always limited to 64 MB per task, and the DPMI is buggier than with
> > DR-DOS 7.03.)
> The later versions do have desirable improvements, yes, but including them
> would violate DeviceLogics' IP, AIUI.

I don't even know if they're called DeviceLogics anymore. But yes, DR-DOS Inc. (or whatever) still sells it online.

I honestly don't know if TASKMGR.EXE is freeware.

While I did buy DR-DOS 7.03 online many years ago (2004?), I no longer use it. It's a good OS, but I ended up extending it with so many third-party things (esp. from FreeDOS), so it's less useful overall. Even EDR-DOS used modified versions of FreeDOS utils.

Hey, I don't want to overhype FreeDOS, but it's the last hope of DOS. It's a woefully understaffed group, but it's better than nothing. Most people have "moved on" to other OSes (GNU/Linux, ReactOS, etc).

> Currently, I have it working, and can concurrently load DR DOS Editor, MS
> DOS Editor, MSD and a few command prompts and switch between them.

Okay, but why would you run two text editors? I sympathize with multitasking, but you don't always need it. To me, the obvious situations would be file compression / archiving, compiling, or doing any file searching across subdirs. Otherwise, I'm good without it.

> On PC DOS 7.1 I have DOSShell swapping MS Word 6 and WordPerfect 6.2 but I
> can't redistribute any of them, sadly.

DOSEMU + FreeDOS should "mostly" be Free/libre. I'm not sure how cleaned up it is, even in DOSEMU2 (haven't looked closely lately). Converting to Free tools is still (another) burden.

> > ViewMax/2? Isn't that just OpenGEM?
> No. ViewMax 1 was in DR-DOS 5; ViewMax 2 was in DR-DOS 6. Both are based on
> GEM, but heavily cut-down. They're graphical file-managers and
> app-launchers and not much more.
> Both were separately open-sourced by Caldera, independently of DR-DOS. It's
> GPL.
> So I have extracted a copy from DR-DOS 6 and included it.

Splitting hairs here, close enough. :-P

> The main reason is that it provides not only a graphical front-end, but
> also a GUI to TaskMgr.

Who needs a GUI? Doesn't Ctrl-Esc (or whatever) bring up the task list? Heck, one guy (David Given?) wrote his own util many moons ago, too.

> > I still say DOSEMU2 + FreeDOS (+ whatever slim Linux distro, Puppy?) is
> > better, obviously.
> I have DOSemu on all my Linux machines, and I love the easy access to the
> host's filesystem -- but I find it quite easy to crash, so I don't trust it
> not to lose my work.

Yes, some few things don't work, but no DOS environment is 100% perfect.

> VirtualBox still gives near on-the-metal performance, and the screen can be
> resized more smoothly. I've also found it _very_ stable, although playing
> with DOS memory management and multitasking can kill my VMs sometimes. Once
> I have stable working combinations, though, this is not unpredictable --
> e.g. Ctrl-Alt-Del doesn't work but the VBox Reset command does. With a
> write-through disk-cache, this is not a problem.

Do you have hardware virtualization? That helps a lot.

> Also, I'm afraid I just don't like FreeDOS very much. It doesn't behave as
> I expect. I spent a decade working with MS & DR DOS on a daily basis and
> have expectations of what it will do. Even 4DOS broke those expectations
> and some of my batch files failed.
> FreeDOS is a great piece of work, and I hope that people use it and it
> thrives. However, I prefer "the real thing" and as such my interest is
> reviving PC DOS for my own personal use, and DR DOS for more general use.

I don't blame you for using whatever works, for preferring what's familiar. I'm not pressuring you or pretending that FreeDOS is 1000x better. But overall it's the only hope left, and the Free license (for "most" things) far surpasses the others (which are either long dead or close enough). FreeDOS will not see major improvements probably, but hopefully it doesn't die just yet. (Although Intel intends to kill the BIOS entirely by 2020 in favor of UEFI. No more CSM.)


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